On August 7, 1999, LRP supporters participated in a Washington DC rally which was intended to counter a planned march by the neo-Nazi American Nationalist Party, also known as the Knights of Freedom (KOF). The anti-Nazi rally attracted about 400 participants at its peak. In contrast, only four fascists showed up although the group purportedly had 200 members, and a call had gone out for other rightist groups to turn out as well. The parade was promptly cancelled. The strongest force of the day were the police: over 1500 D.C. cops, U.S. Park Police, and others, all heavily armed in riotgear, and including mounted units and anti-sniper sharpshooters.
KOF has certainly turned out to not represent much of a threat. In fact, it was revealed that the leader, Davis Wolfgang Hawke, was operating under a pseudonym and is a bit of a fraud, by fascist standards. As the Village Voice reported, “Turns out Hawke grew up Jewish. ‘Number one, he’s a chicken,’ Mrs. Greenbaum [his mother] said. ‘I don’t like to say that about my own son, but he is a chicken.’“ (Village Voice, August 17, 1999)
Despite the bizarreness of this particular group and its leader, it would terribly foolish to not treat the increased development of violent fascists, neo-fascist, quasi-fascist and far right groups and inidividuals with dead seriousness. Racist killings by far right elements are becoming a weekly occurrence. Buford Furrow, the man responsible for the recent shootings at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles was a known white supremacist and member of the Aryan Nations for years.
But taking the fight against fascism seriously also means opposing the false liberal panaceas of more gun control and more hate crime bills. Communists argue that the working class and oppressed need to develop our own method and program for fighting the right. We oppose completely the notion that the capitalist state can be relied on to fight fascism. Our leaflet points to the organic relationship between mainstream capitalism today, the main enemy, and the growing far right – in an attempt to dispel the liberal illusions that racism and fascism can be fought without fighting capitalism itself.
The League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) stands with all those who want to fight against racism and fascism. For this reason we join today with others who want to actually oppose the march of the neo-Nazi American Nationalist Party. Should we allow these scum to spew their racist filth against Jews, Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, gays and anyone else not fitting their sick definition of “pure White America”? No! There can be no talk of “civil rights” for those who advocate “white rights” and whose real purpose is murderous violence against the working class and oppressed people.
Every time they succeed in their efforts to strut about publicly they enhance the reputation of their group and are able to recruit more. And we are talking about a group with the dead serious program of racist genocide as well as the extermination of unions and any rights for the working class at large. So the answer is again no, we do not believe that working-class people should allow any fascist group to march. We in fact believe that every Nazi and Klan rally should be swamped and halted by thousands of organized opponents. In reality stopping the Nazis and Klan is a matter of self-defense.
Combating the Nazis, preventing them from spreading their message, and thereby also demoralizing their current members is possible - but only through concerted militant action. Workers and the oppressed have an interest in such an event taking place. But the liberal leadership of such civil rights organizations as the NAACP has invested its time and prestige into setting up a “peace vigil” at the Lincoln Memorial today instead! This accomplishes nothing more than giving Mayor Tony Williams a cheap claim to “anti-racist” credentials, and dividing and disorienting all the people who should be out here trying to stop the Nazis. This was a clearly contrived plan by forces fearful of any mass mobilization against the Nazis. The unions are practically invisible in this struggle as well! This isn’t because liberals or union leaders today love Nazis but because they know that any mass mobilization would inevitably confront the police and other aspects of the racist anti-worker establishment too, not just the fascist fringe elements. And the liberals and union leaders do support the capitalist system, make no mistake about it. Therefore they usually try to avoid any kind of polarization or confrontation with the system from occurring.
Even a well-organized left demonstration can be a step forward. Unfortunately, the main force behind calling this counter-demonstration, DC United to Stop the Nazis (DCUSN), has also failed to put forward a strategy to actually stop the Nazis today, despite its name. (DCUSN is a coalition led by the International Socialist Organization.) While claiming to favor mass action, the main “action” favored by DC United to Stop the Nazis was to petition the city for the revocation of the Nazis’ permit to march.
We think this is a serious and dangerous error committed by DCUSN. Asking the mayor to revoke the permit encourages a lot of illusions in the capitalist government as the savior, as the force that would stop the Nazis. But today, in terms of racist violence and anti-worker attacks, the greatest danger comes from the police, courts and other wings of the capitalist government. Police departments themselves are the notorious breeding grounds for racist, anti-working class scum. Proof of widespread FBI and police collaboration with right-wing hate groups is plentiful. In any case, we do not want to give the police and the government even more power. Such power will only be used to repress the working class when it seeks to defend itself from capitalism’s attacks. It is much more likely to deny permits to our marches and events than to the fascists and racists.
DCUSN policy also leaves the counter demonstration vulnerable to the tactics of the police. The working class and the oppressed must depend on their own forces and strength to defeat the Nazis and not on the capitalist police. If we are to succeed we must be prepared to deal with the efforts of the police to undermine the counter demonstration. As they have done in the past, the cops will aim to keep us under their control - and far away from the fascists whom they aim to protect. Their official mouthpieces have “advised” us to “just ignore them” rather than to try to stop the Nazis. In reality the police assist the fascists in these situations. In city after city, every time the fascists rear their ugly heads, the cops are there in force - with their guns and batons turned against us.
On this score, one of the cops’ favorite tactics is to force anti-fascist demonstrators into barricaded areas to prevent them from physically confronting the Nazis. As a matter of fact, these “pig pens” are designed exactly to make the anti-fascist demonstrators look weak and powerless - while the Nazis parade about.
Generally speaking, given the fascists’ massive protection by the police, the only way to build an effective response is to have a big, combatant counter-demonstration. In this way we would be capable of intimidating the fascists from making their appearance, and we would be able to overcome the police protection in an orderly and disciplined fashion. Key to a truly mass mobilization would be the involvement of the unions as well as civil rights and other community organizations, which have the resources to mobilize large numbers of people to turn out.
While it is not possible to confront fascists directly at every event, we must at the very least educate ourselves about the fact that the police cannot be trusted at all. A leadership that advocates entering pig pens at protests, and says that simply chanting against the fascists while under police patrol is a victory for our side, is not telling the truth.
Today, in terms of racist violence, the main attacks come from the police and other wings of the capitalist establishment. The past few months have seen a barrage of police murders from city to city. This area has seen more than its share of atrocities. Eight years after Archie Elliot’s murder in Prince Georges County, the police who killed him have still not been brought to justice. And what about the economic violence that is perpetuated against the working class and poor, in this and every city in the country? What about the cutbacks in health care and nutrition programs, or the lack of decent housing and jobs? Capitalism kills. It doesn’t make sense to narrowly focus against fascists, and not also address the racist anti-worker system that they come out of. In demonstrating today, and in building our fight back for the future, we must make sure that we are focusing not only against this one little group of would-be fascists but against their defenders, the police, and against all the racist and anti-worker attacks that are coming from this city and this system.
The form of capitalism we live under today is bourgeois democracy. Through long and hard struggles, workers and oppressed groups have won important, though limited gains such as the right to vote, the right to organize unions, the elimination of Jim Crow laws, and even the right to demonstrate and assemble. However, as most of us know through daily experience, this “democracy” is not a humane egalitarian system but the dictatorship of the capitalist ruling class, an exploitative, oppressive, racist and unjust system in every way. For now the capitalists are content with the “ordinary” means of repression: letting our schools and hospitals crumble, letting the racist police run riot in our neighborhoods, bussing in scabs when workers strike for decent wages and pensions. As long as the working-class majority is not organized to overthrow the system, the capitalist minority feels it is safe enough to afford the luxury of democratic concessions to mass struggle. However, history tells us that as soon as the working class becomes strong enough to threaten capitalist rule, the ruling class reveals its reactionary character and turns to their fascist thugs to save their system.
The growth of fascist groups shows that even now the ruling class is preparing for future working-class explosions that will inevitably arise as capitalism faces a deepening international crisis. In the U.S., “democratic” capitalism has been intensifying all sorts of racism and scapegoating as means of dividing the working class. It’s become increasingly repressive - as witnessed with the nationwide epidemic of police brutality and the Supreme Court assaults against the right of habeas corpus. And the police are already the breeding ground for a future mass fascist movement.
We believe that capitalism is a system in mortal decay, faced with an inevitable economic crisis of proportions unseen in many decades. Conditions of the 1930’s will return with a vengeance in the near future. In fact, if capitalism is allowed to continue further, without a strong revolutionary working-class alternative being developed, it will indeed repeat history even more so: it will eventually resort to another world war. And fascism again will rear its head, just like it did in the 1930’s. All this destruction is part of capitalism’s attempt to save its profit-making system against the needs of humanity. Thus the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) advocates mass action to fight the attacks on us today, hand in hand with the process of building a revolutionary party to overthrow capitalism altogether.
Our class has the power to prevent the return of war and fascism. But workers must gain confidence in their own strength and ability to unify and fight back. For this reason we not only advocate mass action against fascists when possible. We have also been campaigning to popularize the idea of a general strike against capitalist attacks, as a means toward developing the fighting power and unity of our class on a broader scale.
The working class must build a revolutionary force of the most politically conscious fighters that can lead its struggles forward. We encourage all those who agree with the ideas in this leaflet to contact us!